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Old 11-17-2012, 12:14 PM   #51
platypus121 OP
CT.110 NZ
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Joined: Nov 2007
Location: Hamilton, New Zealand
Oddometer: 106
Birtles vs Australia

ACT 18
William Creek to Marree

In which we see a Snake, Bubbles and Blanche, find Shangri-La in the Desert,
and become Desperate.


A few kilometers south of WC, we see our first snake! I don't know if it is on the
most-deadly list, but it sure looks beautiful, about a meter long and three centimetres
in diameter, glossy brown and slow moving, but not so slowly that it hasn’t
disappeared by the time I stop and walk back. Going into the road bank are
holes about ten centimeter in diameter. Someone in one of those holes could
be in for a surprise.

Coward Creek.
Wycliffe Well brands itself the “oasis in the desert” - Coward Springs is a far
better candidate for that title. Palm trees and a mass of green surround a fast
flowing spring that creates its own small wetland area. Near the spring source
there is a wooden tub big enough for three or four people - even more than four
if you are of slight build, gymnastically inclined, or highly sociable. There are
three bodies already enjoying a spa-like experience in an unlikely location,
but none of them has a Swedish accent so I decide not to join them.
The lack of swimwear also plays a part in my decision.

Camping is just $10 in beautiful surroundings so different from WC where I had
to borrow a hammer to break up a rock to use bits of it to hammer in the tent pegs.
It would have been nice to stay here, but after coming from Cadney Roadhouse,
the extra 74 kilometers would have made an impossibly long a day - besides,
that would have meant missing the Pandy experience (and the own jug).

Off the Track to see a couple more oases.

The Bubbler meets all advertised claims and performs exactly as expected.
Not many things do that.

I forget what this one is called.


Some place names have a magic about them. Some that spring to mind are
Atlantis, Shangri-La, Valhalla, and Woop Woop. Then there’s ..............


Here the Track presents us with a treat that makes amends for all the hurdles
it has placed before Birtles. It is just an old railway siding, but it makes me forget
what slow progress we are making, and an hour is passed here, soaking up the
atmosphere, watching the kites circling and the swallows that have made nests
in the buildings swooping after insects. The wind in the desert oaks is relaxing.
If Birtles decides to quit, this would be a good place to do it - at least until the
666 water runs out. Caravans clatter over the corrugations on the Track without
turning off. Do they miss the sign, or are they so focused on ending their
rivet-loosening ride that they are willing to rush - even to WC ?

Either way, they miss a transcendental experience at Curdimurka.

Not to mention a yellow and brown butterfly that wafts past - upwind.
How do they do that? I have seen them in winds that slowed Birtles to less
than 50kph, seeming to be thrown about yet still making steady progress upwind.
Birtles could use their aerodynamics to battle the wind.


It is not the road that calls me away from Curdimurka, it is the need to complete the
next stage to Marree, past Lake Eyre South.

The balloons inflate again.

Someone else got sick of the corrugations, and has done something about it.

The results of dehydration out here can be severe.

My 666 water is gone. I know it’s time to get into Marree and to down a cold
ginger beer or two when things like this start to appear…

But, the Track has no mercy and the corrugations continue. Distance markers
creep by more slowly and with less than 40 km to go I pull onto a "No entry without
permit" track, leave Birtles in the sun making a buzzing sound and find some shade
in which to strip off. Could have a touch of the sun. I'm not thirsty, not hungry,
just weary - but I sure wish those pixie things would stop jumping around me like that!

The riding jacket is cool from sweat when it goes back on and the buzzing noise is still
there, coming from the small electric toothbrush that has been bumped on who knows
how long ago by the rough ride.

At the far end of a straight, twenty kilometers out of Marree, there is a flash of warning
lights that grow into ..... road graders! Two of them working in tandem on the same
side of the road, my side, leveling bumps and corrugations to create a smooth, hard
surface like that we had for the first thirty kilometers out of Cadney Roadhouse -
just pity about that 526 km middle section!

Must be nice to have a job that everyone loves you for.

A week or two later the whole Track would have been graded and all the drama
avoided, but then I think that it is better the way it turned out because we have now
ridden the Track at its worst and at its best.


Marree, the town that claims "A hundred years romance with the railway" comes
into view from the top of a final crest. I don't feel romantic, just relieved and too tired
to make much conversation with the three Birdsville-bound postie riders filling up
at the servo. Checking out Birtles and pointing to their unburdened bikes and the
4WD support vehicle filled with spare parts and replacement engines, one of them
says "It feels like we're cheating".
I feel like sleeping.

Free camp is made in the hotel grounds. A quick wander about town, food at the servo
and then race the sun to bed. The wind comes up and rips at the tent. I don't care.
Tomorrow there is a final 80km dirt stage before the seal starts at Lyndhurst.

Obsolete forms of transport at Marree.

Hot sun and disused machinery like this locomotive always get me wondering.
How many thousands of hours went into crafting and assembling all her bits?
What is happening to all those work-hours stored up in her components - are they
lost forever, or are they being slowly released as the parts disintegrate? Is there a
way of extracting all that exertion? And, if the energy put into making the parts can
be collected and stored successfully, is it ethical to reuse it without reimbursing
the original generators of that energy?

Another desolate Twilight Zone playground.

Marree hit us right between the eyes with this one. After struggling through
600 kilometres of dirt and dust, some lazy bugger expects us to just give him
our hard-won trophies of the Track. Not likely, he can do the hard yards
and collect his own bulldust.

The cheek of it !
You wouldn’t find that sort of thing in New Zealand.

To be continued ……….

BigZoner #096 (English Chapter)
"Keep brotherhood till die"

platypus121 screwed with this post 11-17-2012 at 06:26 PM
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